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Analog quantum simulators may solve problems traditional quantum computers can’t

Published Feb 5th, 2023 8:10PM EST
quantum physics questions, universe
Image: Ulia Koltyrina / Adobe

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Researchers from Stanford University and University College Dublin (UCD) have developed bespoke quantum computers with quantum components designed to solve specific questions. These analog quantum simulators are designed to solve problems that even the fastest, most efficient digital quantum computers can’t.

But we aren’t talking about room-sized computers like you might imagine. Unlike traditional room-sized computers, these analog quantum simulators are small, consisting of hybrid metal-semiconductors on a nanoelectronic circuit, and the researchers measured them in microns, not meters. That makes them much more feasible than the room-sized computers we relied on decades ago.

These analog quantum simulators work by creating a “hardware analogy” to solve problems in quantum physics. Researchers used a simple circuit combined with two quantum components to test the simulator. By tuning electrical voltages, they created a state of matter the researchers dubbed “Z3 parafermions,” where electrons have only one-third of their usual charge.

quantum computing, large-scale quantum computer at workImage source: metamorworks / Adobe

What’s impressive about this discovery is that this is the first time such a state has been created on an electronic device in a lab. The researchers published a paper on their findings in the journal Nature Physics, which fully details the analog quantum simulators.

The goal from here is to scale up the devices to solve more complex questions in quantum computing. The researchers believe that these simulators will allow them to solve mathematical models that are too complex to be solved in a reasonable amount of time with traditional computing methods. With analog quantum simulators, researchers have “knobs to turn” that they haven’t had before.

The hope is that this will allow them to understand and better solve the complex problems that make up quantum physics. Analog quantum simulators represent a new and innovative approach to quantum computing. With recent advancements that could see smaller quantum computers being built, humanity may soon be on the cusp of learning more about quantum physics than ever before.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.